Odds of minor leaguers making it to the pros?

Baseball has a lot of leagues for a player to go through before they make it to the MLB. At each level, which percentage get promoted? What are the odds of a given Rookie League player ever playing a game in the MLB?

The answer to the question in the title is 100%, because the minor leagues are still considered professional leagues. As for the question within the body, I’m sure someone else will have an answer.

This recent article from Forbes indicates that, at any given time during the season, there are roughly 6500 players on the minor league teams which are affiliated with MLB teams. At any given time, there are 750 active roster spots on MLB teams (not counting injured lists). So, that gives you an idea of magnitude, though it doesn’t say anything about promotion rates.

A couple of other things to keep in mind:

  • There are a lot of minor leagues that are “independent leagues” – that is, the teams in those leagues aren’t affiliated with MLB teams, and while their players are, absolutely, professional baseball players, they are probably even less likely to make it to the majors.
  • Not every MLB prospect who plays in the affiliated minor leagues starts out in Rookie ball. Depending on how advanced the player is, they may start out in one of the Single A leagues, or even, on occasion, in Double A.

Although it is rare some players don’t play in the minors at all (2 since 2000 according to Wikipedia).
Others like ARod have short stints (17 games for him).

Not sure of the veracity or how it was calculated, but generally I’ve heard about 10% of minor league players make it to majors at some point.

No cite, but I’ve heard it’s 3 percent.

It’s actually better than one thinks. The number of players who make their major league debut every year is about 250-270. About 1600-2000 players are added to the professional pool every year through the First Year Player Draft, international free agency signings, and amateur free agents, so once you have been signed by a pro team, a random player’s odds of making it to the big leagues are no worse than ten percent, maybe as high as 15-20%.

If that seems weirdly high, well, remember, you gotta employ someone in the major leagues, and MLB teams do not have the time, room or inclination to draft hundreds and hundreds of players each every year. By the time a player is chosen to even be in Rookie or low A ball, he’s a hell of a player.

Having said that, of course, the majority of players who will reach MLB will have very short careers indeed. For fun, I had a look at an alphabetical listing of all players who debuted in 1992, and started, arbitrarily, with the eightieth name on the list. Here are the first ten names:

Pedro Martinez
Matt Maysey
Russ McGinnis
Jim McNamara
Tony Menendez
Henry Mercedes
Sam Militello
Joe Millette
Blas Minor
Dave Mlicki

Yes, it’s THAT Pedro Martinez, the guy in the Hall of Fame. Of the other nine names, though, I only remember three - Militello, Minor, and Mlicki, and honestly the only reason I remember Minor is his odd name. Most lasted a season or two of a handful of games and were done.

Of all of the counts of minor league players who have played in the majors, how many have played other than when rosters expand to 40 in September? That could inflate the numbers.

That was my thought, as well, though I believe that those September call-ups are guys who are already on the major league club’s 40-man rosters, which is made up of (a) players who are already on the major league team, and (b) guys in the minors who the parent club feel are among their top prospects.

I have no doubt that a fair number of players who make their MLB debut in September don’t ever make it back up, but I suppose I’d be surprised if a majority of those who debut then don’t return to a major league club the next season (or at some point in the future).

I have no idea how to figure that out, but I’d agree the great majority of guys who debut during the September expansion would likely have played at least a few games anyway. As kenobi points out, those players must be on the 40-man roster, and you have to be reasonably well regarded to get onto the 40-man roster; those spots are limited, taking players on and off it has consequences, and it’s important for a team to have the right guys on them.

What are the numbers for hockey? How many ECHL players make it to the AHL and NHL?

very few guys who start in ECHL make it to the NHL. We had a local ECHL team for a while and I think one guy made the NHL and he was basically a goon/fighter.

The normal route is college - AHL - NHL or major junior - AHL-NHL
a few guys go from high school to junior to AHL to NHL

A young relative of mine used to play in the Federal Hockey League, and reported that it was full of guys who had been cut by the ECHL and were desperately trying to hang on for one more shot, postponing the real world for one more season. It’s officially a pro league, but I’m not sure you can call a league professional if the players never actually get paid, and get cut if they complain about it.

hockey has an unusual rule in that 18-19 year olds cannot play in the AHL. They can play in the NHL if they are good enough which happens for very top guys.

the reason for this is they want most 18-19 year olds to stay in junior hockey so that league still has good players.

also unlike other sports college hockey players are drafted and can still play in college for 2 more years , their rights are still owned by the NHL team that drafted them during that time